Kane Brewing - Ocean, NJ
Kane Brewing in Ocean Township - any local to the area or even in New Jersey that knows anything about craft beer has undoubtedly heard the name of this brewery. I raise my glass to this brewery for producing consistently good product, to the point where I usually take their beers for granted when I find them on tap at any local bar or restaurant. Kane Brewing is just a 20 minute drive for me, but well worth it when you consider that it is one of the pillars of craft beer within the Monmouth/Ocean sector. Open since 2011, the former space used to manufacture caskets is now used to manufacture some of the most delicious beer in the state.
If you have any knowledge of the New Jersey craft beer scene, then you will have heard such terms as "Head High", "ANTEAD", "Morning Bell"... all beers that are creative signatures and flagships of this Ocean Township brewery. Head High is their American-style IPA and usually the one beer I really take for granted since it is so widely available in the state. I've found it even in Newark International Airport right before a flight to Puerto Rico.
ANTEAD (A Night to End All Dawns) is their bourbon barrel aged imperial stout that has gained massive notoriety on social media for being heavily sought and equally traded although ridiculously enjoyed by anyone who is able to get their hands on it. Morning Bell is their imperial milk coffee porter which seems to be flirting with the same destiny as ANTEAD. So right off the bat, we've already established three of the favorites, but there's so much more to them than just those three.
If you're new to Kane Brewing, don't expect a huge sign or anything saying you have arrived. Your GPS wasn't wrong, it's definitely the building with an entrance that looks like you are walking into for a dentist appointment. But once you enter and are greeted by a Kane employee asking for your ID, you know you have arrived to quality beer. You will keep walking into what I consider the "inside taproom". Inside is a handful of selections of some of the best Kane has to offer. They have additional merchandise as well including hats, growler bags and tee-shirts.
Because New Jersey laws are "awesome", you are required to take a tour of the brewery located in the "outside taproom". Those tours happen on the hour, every hour until closing. The tour is definitely worth taking just to see where the magic happens, but once you are ready for feast your taste buds on some of the best Jersey beer you could possibly try, either go back into the inside taproom or stay outside and hit up one of the clearly marked lines to order as much as you'd like.
The big difference between the inside and the outside areas is that the outside area typically has a lot more selection. Inside just has 6 taps - outside, the possibilities are endless - or as many taps available. Barrels adorn the wall but some are also on the floor to be used for a standing area to place your glasses or flights down and engage in conversation with your friends. Some benches are available as well so feel free to sit down next to people you know or people you don't, either way you'll have a great time regardless.
One solid of piece advice for now is: If it's warm outside the building, dress as if it were going to be warmer and if it's cold, dress as if it were going to be colder. Because the space is so big, it's a bit harder to regulate the temperature so if you go for the first time, you might be caught off-guard. Trust me, the outside taproom is pretty spacious and much bigger than it looks in pictures. Some of the space is being currently taken up by empty Head High cans which hopefully will be filled up within the coming months. Kane Brewing is currently expanding to accommodate demand and canning needs which means more available product for the rest of us!
I'd say 95% of the time that I've gone to Kane Brewing, there's always at least 6 offerings on tap including their year-round offerings Head High, Overhigh (Double IPA), and Single Fin (Belgian Blonde Ale). Aside from some dark times in early 2015, you will definitely find something for everyone including their ongoing Hop Lab series which is essentially their experimental beers done in smaller batches. Many of them are runaway successes like the Citra Pale Ale or the recently released Waimea. Personally, whenever I see that Citra Pale Ale is on tap, all bets are off and that's my go to. Oh Kane, please make this a permanent addition to your lists. New Jersey, nay, America demands it.
If you're from New Jersey and just getting into craft beer, a visit to Kane is an absolute must. If you're not from New Jersey and are looking to visit a few breweries during your travels, Kane needs to be in the top three choices for you. From their flagship IPA to their "whale" stouts and porters to their experimental series of beers, Kane has just about all the bases covered. There are some hits and misses, but ultimately that is for you to decide. As far as I can recall, all the misses for me were a result of personal taste due to not liking certain styles. Kane beers are generally well-received and although they have some work to do on their bottle releases, I am sure that once they start expanding, canning, and distributing more often, they'll figure it out.
The visit to Kane is best experienced with a group of people so that you can all try from the solid offerings that are always on the board. There's a good reason why Kane has remained near the top of the Jersey craft beer scene and is one of the best in state. Even if you dislike certain styles or even certain beers within their lineup, there is absolutely no denying, Kane Brewing is here to stay and warrants at least one trip in your lifetime.